Monster Hunter is an upcoming military science fiction fantasy film produced, written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. It is loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Capcom. The film stars Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip “T. I.” Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung and Ron Perlman.

A film adaptation based on the series has been in conception since 2012 by director Paul W. S. Anderson. The film was formally announced by Capcom in October 2018, with production starting that month with Constantin Film. Principal photography on the film began on October 5, 2018, and was completed on December 19, 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Monster Hunter is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on December 4, 2020 and in the United States on December 30, 2020 by Sony Pictures Releasing through the Screen Gems label (excluding Germany, Japan and China).

Premise

An elite military force, led by CPT. Artemis (Jovovich), fall through a portal into a world populated by giant monsters. They meet a hunter (Jaa) who helps them survive in the world and fight against the monsters as they seek a way home.

Cast

  • Milla Jovovich as Captain Natalie Artemis, a member of a United Nations military team
  • Tony Jaa as The Hunter, one of many skilled warriors that fight giant monsters
  • Clifford “T.I.” Harris, Jr. as Link
  • Meagan Good
  • Diego Boneta
  • Josh Helman
  • Jin Au-Yeung
  • Ron Perlman as Admiral
  • Hirona Yamazaki

Production

Development

In 2012, Resident Evil director Paul W. S. Anderson was then-rumored to direct a film adaptation of Monster Hunter franchise. Anderson stated he had discovered the Monster Hunter series on travels to Japan around 2008 and had become fan of the series, and considered a film adaptation as a “passion project”. Within a couple years from his introduction to the games, Anderson said he had started discussions with Capcom about securing the rights to make the film.

During the September 2016 Tokyo Game Show Capcom producer Ryozo Tsujimoto stated that a live-action Monster Hunter film was in development within Hollywood. Few months later, Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, both who helped to bring Capcom’s Resident Evil game to a series of films, had obtained the rights from Capcom for the Monster Hunter adaption after about five years of discussion. The two anticipate a series of Monster Hunter films. Anderson said he was drawn to the Monster Hunter property, not only because of the series’ popularity, but also for the “incredibly beautiful, immersive world they’ve created”.

Anderson had already penned out a script, which would involve an American being dragged into the parallel universe that the Monster Hunter series was set in, learning how to fight monsters, and then had to deal with the situation when monsters cross back into the real world and start attacking, such as a final climatic battle at Los Angeles International Airport.

At this stage of the script, the concept had been based on a young adult character from the real world called Lucas who was being sought as the hero to drive back the monsters from the real world to the fantasy one; in this form, the script would have explained why certain legends in the real world seemed to align with the monsters from the fantasy world.

As the script developed over the intervening years, Anderson moved away from the “young adult” concept as the genre had become overused in Hollywood, and instead had developed a script based on the premises set by Avatar and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The film was formally announced in May 2018. According to Anderson, the success of the most recent game of the series at the time, Monster Hunter: World, which was developed by Capcom in early 2018 for a worldwide release rather than a limited Japanese one, led many film distributors to seek out potential for a Monster Hunter film only to discover he has already locked up the rights.

Casting

Milla Jovovich, Anderson’s spouse and past lead in his Resident Evil films, was affirmed in the starring role as Captain Artemis with the announcement of the film. Anderson said that he wanted the lead character to be from outside the Monster Hunter as he wanted to introduce the world to the moviegoer in the same way he had experienced the games for the first time himself.

Additional characters from the Monster Hunter realm are based on those from the recent Monster Hunter: World game. On September 25, 2018, rapper T.I. and Ron Perlman were cast in the film, in which T.I. would play Link, a sniper, while Perlman would play Admiral, the leader of the Hunter’s Crew. Tony Jaa was also cast in the film to play the male lead, playing character, The Hunter.

In October 2018, Diego Boneta joined the film to play a character as a communications specialist. Anderson stated that while there are some novel characters in the game, reflecting on the series’ custom character creator, will include characters essential to the series, including the Handler and the Admiral. He also stated that they will not need to create any new monsters, as the series has enough variety that they will be able to pull from for the film.

Pre-production

Furthering on Anderson’s appreciation of the game, he stated that all of the armor and weapons that the Hunters will wear will be based on the equipment from the game series, and will include at least one character that wears a mis-matched set of armor, which reflects on the player’s ability within the game to mix and match armor sets for beneficial results. Anderson wanted to use various settings in the film to match the variety in a game, though recognized that one would not see as much variety in the film as one would see in playing a Monster Hunter game for several hours.

Jovovich, who stated she was also a fan of the video game series, was able to select what weapons she wanted her character to be shown with, and experimented in-game to narrow her choice to the dual blades, both as effective weapons in game and that “I thought they’d look really beautiful in an action sequence.”

The monsters in the film are further based on those in the game, including the series’ signature monster the Rathalos; the game series’ director Kaname Fujioka and producer Ryozo Tsujimoto provided input into the film’s depiction of the monsters.

The movie will also feature palicos, a sentient cat-like species that assist the hunters in the game series, and will include the Meowscular Chef, a palico introduced in Monster Hunter: World that once served as the Admiral’s own aide before becoming a chef. Capcom helped to establish the movie’s setting, taking canonically after the events of Monster Hunter: World, in a new area of the Monster Hunter setting but incorporating facets from several of the games in the series.

Filming

Constantin Film is producing the film, having planned to start production in late 2017 or early 2018, but later confirmed during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival that production would begin in September 2018 in and around Cape Town and South Africa, with an estimated US$60 million budget. Special effects studio Mr. X VFX, which worked on the Resident Evil films, will also be involved in production. Constantin worked with several international distributors for release rights, while Constantin will finance the film’s production.

Principal photography on the film began on October 5, 2018, in Cape Town, South Africa. Milla Jovovich announced on Instagram that principal photography was completed on December 19, 2018.

Marketing

A teaser for the film was first shown at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June 2019, along with the announcement that Toho and Tencent will oversee the film’s distribution in Japan and China, respectively.

Release

Monster Hunter is scheduled to be released in the United States on December 30, 2020. The film was originally scheduled to be released on September 4, 2020, but was delayed to April 23, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before being moved up to the December 30 date. The first official trailer was released on October 14, 2020.

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